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Alaska-Yukon Expedition: 4,700 miles and 7 months; start in 4 weeks
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Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Alaska-Yukon Expedition: 4,700 miles and 7 months; start in 4 weeks on 02/14/2010 16:23:45 MST Print View

Here's a link to the gear list:

You might want to read the Gear Discussion page for a more lengthy explanation of some of the items.

The gear list is much more involved than most, due to the trip spanning all seasons and employing several modes of travel.

I'm about 90 percent confident with the items on this list. I have not completely figured out my winter shelter system or my winter headwear system. Specifically looking for feedback there. But I'll take any feedback you have.

Edited by askurka on 02/14/2010 16:24:22 MST.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: technical difficulties on 02/15/2010 10:24:17 MST Print View

I deleted all of the earlier tech-related posts so that we can keep the focus on the gear list. Just to wrap up the tech problems, I've made it available in two new ways, as opposed to just as an embedded PDF. You can view it in a new browser window or tab, or you can just download it. If you're still having difficulties let me know.

Edited by askurka on 02/15/2010 12:26:45 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
thanks! on 02/15/2010 12:21:51 MST Print View

I'm not sure why my 'puter freaked out this morning, it works now and has always been able to see the embedded lists in the past. I appreciate the thought and time Andy.

The list looks bomber. I'm not qualified to comment on the winter face protection issue. It does seem very wise to not bother with klister, even on the occasions I've managed to apply it well getting it back off the skis seems impossible if you can't get them warm in a building (and use an iron). Do you think the jump from green to purple wax won't be problematic? Blue and Extra Blue always seem especially useful, but you've got advisors with infinitely more experience than I.

Rock it Andy.

Frederique ARLAUX
(Frederique) - F
Gear List on 02/15/2010 12:34:39 MST Print View


As regards the weight the total is in pounds but the subtotals above are in ounces, right? I'm used to grams and kilograms so I guess that the subtotals are in ounces but I'm not positive.

I'm not at all a very experienced backpacker; I just did a few of 2-day hikes so of course nothing compared to your expedition in Alaska.

In the Hydration & Cooking section is the Utensil 2 (REI Chefware Soup Spoon - half-length) just a spoon? I bought a 'spork' (spoon, fork and knife in the same utensil) last summer to go camping and thought it was very useful. It's very light and I could use the fork to grab things too.

And in the Hygiene, Med & Repair section I didn't see any bandages or medicines to disinfect wounds; if unfortunately you have any do you plan to use soap instead?

Good luck!

Take care,

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Gear List on 02/15/2010 12:39:15 MST Print View

The weights of individual items are in ounces, and then the weights at the bottoms are in pounds. I could pretty easily add some gram and oz columns...may get around to doing that.

Spoons versus sporks. Most of my meals are spoon-compatible -- I don't have much to poke. And cleaning the bottom of a pot with a spork is not as efficient.

Re first aid, if I got a cut that required a bandage, I'd tear a piece of fabric from my clothing and apply pressure with tape. Use soap first if you need to disinfect. Obviously this is not the ideal solution, but I think the likelihood of such an injury is really low (based on past experience) and I'm willing to improvise.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
2nd antibiotic on 02/15/2010 14:29:25 MST Print View

not worth getting tetnus or a staph infection b/c you don't have a little triple antibiotic. seems silly to carry a bear cannister and not this item. for a trip that long i'd definitely carry it...

other thoughts.

dr bonners for toothpaste? maybe some baking soda as well. it has many uses

you may want to take a few pairs of glove liners. it's nice to change them out when they get soaked to keep the hands warm. but you do have "gloves" so maybe that is more than 1 pair. maybe not

you probably have this all well and thought out. just my 2 cents

> SKURKA: Re gloves, the key is not getting them wet/soaked, so that they continue to keep my hands warm. Particularly with VBL systems, you need to stay attentive to your perspiration -- if you don't, then you'll end up with soaked inner garments, be that glove liners or base layers. Without a VBL, the consequences of being inattentive to perspiration are different but actually more severe -- your perspiration moves into your outer layers (insulated parkas, sleeping bags, etc.) and soaks the insulation, causing it to collapse entirely. The perfect layering system is the one that keeps you warm enough without so warm as to sweat. This system depends on the environmental conditions and your own output.

Edited by askurka on 02/19/2010 13:45:04 MST.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: 2nd antibiotic on 02/15/2010 14:55:12 MST Print View

Good point. I can probably pick up some small tubes of antibotic -- marginal weight for potential gain. In fact, a few of those came in pretty handy last summer while instructing the 2-week BPL course in the Winds.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 15:00:54 MST Print View

I'd like to start a discussion about my winter shelter.

My current plan is to use the MLD Alpine Bivy. Particularly for the first 275 miles, along the west coast, I'm probably going to experience some strong and relentless wind, and I won't be able to find many natural wind breaks from it, depending on where I am. I'm not confident that any UL shelter (e.g. a mid) could both withstand the winds and/or be staked down sufficiently in the snow (which will either be bondless facets or rock-hard windslabs). The bivy, on the other hand, in conjunction with a SnowClaw, allows me to dig a trench and/or build a snow wall. And it's really light -- 12 oz, with no weight for stakes.

But I got thinking yesterday (when Boulder got 6” of snow overnight) that the bivy might get really old after 6 weeks of use if I continue to use it beyond the coast. And I thought maybe I should consider sending out one of my Mids as soon as I get off the coast. It’ll be a heavier setup but ultimately more sustainable in terms of comfort.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 15:54:58 MST Print View

Hmmm, if you get blowing snow it'll likely pile up behind a wall or in a trench ... as demonstrated by Erin and Hig on their trek.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Re: Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 16:07:13 MST Print View

If it's blowing that hard and there's that much blow-able snow, you're probably hosed regardless of what you do. It's just a matter of what will perform relatively best.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Winter Shelters on 02/15/2010 16:49:02 MST Print View

Two snow walls with the outer one higher than the inner can protect a shelter from blown snow. Good distances are 15 feet away from the tent for the outer one and half that for the inner one. Snow then tends to build up between the walls. But in really strong winds and blowing snow all you can do is keep digging the tent. I've been up every few hours doing this on too many occasions!

I wouldn't want just a bivi tent for a long snow trip. Depending on the snow it can take quite a while to build a snow wall for protection and even then blown snow could bury you. I'd want a solid storm resistant tent. I haven't used one of the Mids but I have used a Hex 3/Shangri-La 3 in 50-60mph winds and it has stood up fine. I like floorless pyramids in snow because you can dig them in, which keeps the wind and snow out and adds strength. Another tent I've found good in heavy snow and strong winds is the TarpTent Scarp 1 with crossover poles.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Gear List on 02/15/2010 17:07:52 MST Print View

> Re first aid, if I got a cut that required a bandage, I'd tear a piece of fabric
> from my clothing and apply pressure with tape. Use soap first if you need to
> disinfect. Obviously this is not the ideal solution, but I think the likelihood
> of such an injury is really low (based on past experience) and I'm willing to improvise.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 17:14:49 MST Print View

You can probably guess my opinion. Like Chris I would go for a genuine small tent under those conditions. The space and shelter allows for vital rest and relaxation, which is often needed after a hard day in bad weather. And with a decent tent you are not hosed in bad weather.


Edited by rcaffin on 02/15/2010 17:15:58 MST.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 17:48:15 MST Print View

A little while ago I entertained the thought of picking up an all-season bivy (a la ID Microbivy, all eVent Overbag, or MLD 2010 Alpine Bivy). Having the little bivy experience that I do, the conditions you face and your minimialistic style, I think you've picked the best bivy option available.

How much and what type of snow or other surface will you be dealing with? I understand that for a 'mid, you will be wanting time for any stakes of deadmans to set up in snow. Will you have that amount of time? Also, why can't you dig a trench and set up your shelter, whatever it is, in that trench?

I mention stakes because likely will need to be able to secure any shelter you chose. This applies to every shelter, and anything above the trench could be blown away. Which would suck.

Here are some lightweight options, some or all of which may be cost-prohibitive. I'm thinking like Black Diamond's Firstlight (if you can find it) or Oneshot. Both are low-profile dome tents that should shed wind and show relatively easily. A Stephenson's Warmlite might be too high for your use. But it would minimize staking requirements with three available.

Also, an all-eVent ID MK1 XL or Rab Summit Extreme are similar designs to the Firstlight for more weight. The ID Wedge could be another option, but it is a bivy. Technically.

Good luck.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Alaska-Yukon Expedition: 4,700 miles and 7 months; start in 4 weeks on 02/15/2010 18:16:04 MST Print View

I would second the ID Wedge. Small enough to fit into small places, low profile will spill the extreme wind you may encounter, and the two cross pole design will shed snow with ease. I also love eVENT fabric. Of course, the big issue is the weight (just under 3 lbs). On the other hand, if it is a temporary solution until conditions allow the SoloMid to be used then there is some merit here.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
RAB Summit Extreme on 02/15/2010 18:27:46 MST Print View

Having had and used this tent I think you might like it - its big (for one) and light. Big enough to cook in (I use a jetboil in summer), which is a nice way of warming up the tent too. Its nice to be out of the wind, snow and sleet.
The only thing is that I might be a bit scared of using a XKG inside it - eVent is not used in tents (the Wedge and Rab are 'bivys'), it has ZERO fireproofing -- in fact according to reports I have heard eVent is rather flammable.
Hope that helps, you could always plan (and practice) being REALLY carefull starting the XKG. I think Coleman makes a starter paste that is good in these circumstances.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Alaska-Yukon Expedition: 4,700 miles and 7 months; start in 4 weeks on 02/15/2010 18:27:50 MST Print View

1. Cut most of the floor out of the ID wedge (or the RAB) and leave a few inches all the way around for snow flaps. That could knock off half a pound.

2. Small half tarp over head? MLD sells one that might work.

You'll have to be prepared to dig out if you begin to get covered with snow, whatever shelter you go with.

Edited by jshann on 02/15/2010 18:31:36 MST.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
AYE on 02/15/2010 18:41:30 MST Print View

I'm no expert, but I would carry a VERY small amount of red klister, because there are some snow conditions in which you cannot progress without klister. It will eventually wear off your skis.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 18:43:35 MST Print View

I'm thinking the Black Diamond Oneshot, too. It's small and light, freestanding (so you don't have to stake it out, and therefore acts similar to a bivy so you can dig a trench for it easily), has a low wind profile, is tight so there is no flapping in strong winds, and probably strong enough for snow loads. Thing is, it's made of Epic, which many have said is not waterproof enough in sustained rains. For winter use though it may be ideal.

Another light tent you might consider (besides the TarpTent Scarp 1, is the Terra Nova Laser Competition, which Steve Perry used in his 2005 winter traverse of the Munroes in the Great Britain. You can even leave the inner behind and use a bivy inside for extra warmth. That way you'll have a full-coverage, single-skin floorless shelter that is strong and very lightweight.

The Wedge sounds good, too, with John' suggestion of cutting out the floor (you can leave in enough of the floor fabric around the perimeter for snow flaps)

I'm curious, though, why, if you feel you can't stake out a shelter (can you can use the Arctic Pack's aluminum rods for snow anchors?) because the snow might be "rock hard", how you are going to be able to dig a trench with a Snow Claw? I'd think getting a long stake in would be easier and then the shelter itself would provide better protection. I've not heard of any arctic explorers using just a bivy on the tundra, and there the wind must be exceptionally strong.

Edited by butuki on 02/15/2010 18:49:46 MST.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Re: Winter shelters on 02/15/2010 18:57:50 MST Print View

A clear leaning towards tents is emerging, or at least more of a substantial shelter than a pure bivy. But let me try to sell the case for a more minimal shelter...

IF the conditions were going to be full-on Arctic and I was completely on my own, then I could see the case for a 4-season tent. As I've admitted, a bivy is not sustainable long-term I don't think -- it's an "emergency shelter" for a reason.

But I'm not completely on my own -- the coastal towns are 96, 91, 43, and 45 miles apart; there is at least one public use shelter (plus occasional fishing sheds) between each town; and I'm following snowmobile trails and it should be fast. Moreover, there is some variability in the landscape -- the route follows ocean bluffs, and gets into some wooded areas between Buckland and Koyuk.

My point is, I think I can probably "pack my tough" as a good friend of mine says, and make it through the occasional night when the conditions are bad AND my campsite stinks. If the conditions are good, then a bivy should be fine regardless of campsite. And if my campsite is good, a bivy should be okay again.