Forum Index » Gear Lists » Alaska-Yukon Expedition: 4,700 miles and 7 months; start in 4 weeks


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Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Shovel on 02/17/2010 02:23:25 MST Print View

> There's been some criticism of the SnowClaw, but the fact is that it weighs 6 oz
> whereas the lightest backcountry shovels weigh about 20 oz. Tough to beat that...
Yeah, tough - provided it works. I have seen several comments that it is useless for digging out a snow cave. What else would you use it for though?

Cheers

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Shovel on 02/17/2010 03:14:54 MST Print View

> There's been some criticism of the SnowClaw, but the fact is that it weighs 6 oz
> whereas the lightest backcountry shovels weigh about 20 oz. Tough to beat that...
Yeah, tough - provided it works. I have seen several comments that it is useless for digging out a snow cave.


Yes, it does work great when the snow is soft. I've often used it to build snow caves in the deep, wet snow here in Japan. But if it is "rock hard" as you described earlier, there is no way it is going to work. It is just a piece of plastic after all.

What else would you use it for though?

Might I suggest a tray for serving tea with crumpets?

Edited by butuki on 02/17/2010 03:16:11 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Winter headwear on 02/17/2010 07:58:45 MST Print View

For facemasks in snowy weather, I like the serius neoprene type. They do not freeze up and are cheap.

http://www.rei.com/product/725712

Edited by jshann on 02/17/2010 08:10:11 MST.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter headwear (and other thoughts) on 02/17/2010 09:36:05 MST Print View

Never used the snowclaw, but in a pinch dug a cave with a cook-pot and an ice axe. However, your cookpot is how big?

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter headwear (and other thoughts) on 02/17/2010 09:39:28 MST Print View

2L

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
Re: Alaska-Yukon Expedition: 4,700 miles and 7 months; start in 4 weeks/ snowclaw on 02/17/2010 11:13:31 MST Print View

I've found the snowclaw to be pretty effective in hard snow, especially if you flip it around and use the narrower end to chop. I imagine that you could use your ski, with the metal edge and all, to chop into hard snow, and use the claw to clear out the resulting chunks. It won't have the same leverage as a big shovel, but I have found it pretty effective in a wide range of conditions.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter headwear (and other thoughts) on 02/17/2010 12:56:47 MST Print View

The snowclaw could be used to possibly break/cut snow and the cook pot to move snow.

A 2 L Ti Pot would be better than a 1 L Al pot for moving snow, because it's bigger and stronger.

A gallon pot would move still more snow.

I have usually had little luck with skis as snow moving/cutting tools.

Roman Dial
(romandial) - F - M

Locale: packrafting NZ
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter headwear (and other thoughts) on 02/17/2010 12:59:21 MST Print View

A shovel is usually considered a mandatory piece of extended, wilderness snow camping equipment....yes heavy-ish and single purpose (can be good for stove base) but life-saving, too.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Winter headwear (and other thoughts) on 02/17/2010 13:34:08 MST Print View

I'd certainly defer to Roman on this one, as I've never tried to chop hard snow with a ski. That said, if you can break it up with a snowclaw, moving the chunks is easily accomplished with the same. I was thinking you could use the ski like a pick for the really hard stuff.

BCA makes a pretty light metal bladed shove, the tour @ 16 ounces. There is also a Japanese company that makes a titanium shovel blade that fits on an ice axe handle, so you might be able to finagle something with a ski pole. Also snowclaw used to make a metal version, which someone might have and be wiling to part with.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
Snow shovel on 02/17/2010 14:14:50 MST Print View

Last year I added some snow shovel specs to the wiki:

http://wiki.backpackinglight.com/Category:Snow_Shovels

may be worth checking if you decide against the claw. I like the Voile XLM and used it to support my stove while cooking and also place it under my trekking pole for the duomid to keep it from sinking into the snow.

Jeremy Gustafson
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
re: Shovel on 02/17/2010 14:23:59 MST Print View

How about combining a ULA Helix Carbon Fiber Ice Axe with your cookpot? They no longer have them available, but maybe Ryan can track one down for you or lend you his... :-) The ice axe weighs less than your shovel and would be multi-use.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Snowclaw on 02/17/2010 14:24:30 MST Print View

>> Also snowclaw used to make a metal version, which someone might have and be wiling to part with.

Andy, I have an Al Snowclaw (11.5 oz) that you're welcome to borrow for your trip if you want. Email me if you're interested.

Though, in my opinion, Snowclaws have two limitations:

1) (Plastic ones) can't cut through really hard snow as has been mentioned.

2) It's hard to *lift* snow with them and/or place snow precisely.

/MM

Edited by MikeMartin on 02/17/2010 14:28:25 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Shovels on 02/17/2010 14:28:03 MST Print View

Yeah, plastic is plastic. However, most metal shovels are a bit too heavy for non-avalanche duty.

My solution, which I have used for maybe 10 years now, is a rectangle of high-tensile (7075) aluminium about 1.0 mm thick and 250 x 125 mm. This has a 15 degree bend down one side. It weighs about 70 g.

This makes an excellent shovel, scraper, excavator, snow saw and even stove base. Being so thin it slices into the hard snow quite well. The bend and the alloy give it excellent stiffness for digging and scraping.

Cheers
..Edited to correct dimensions..

Edited by rcaffin on 02/17/2010 23:13:21 MST.

Jeremy Gustafson
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
RE: Shovel on 02/17/2010 14:28:18 MST Print View

Here's the thread on the japanese made titanium shovel attachment...


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=18101

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Shovels on 02/17/2010 14:53:08 MST Print View

Roger, is there a MYOG article on your aluminium thing?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Syle on 02/17/2010 17:34:20 MST Print View

Thank You Roger.

Edited by annapurna on 02/17/2010 17:37:58 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: re: Shovel on 02/17/2010 18:54:52 MST Print View

"How about combining a ULA Helix Carbon Fiber Ice Axe with your cookpot? They no longer have them available"

They're still listed on the ULA site, and seem to be available for order. (Only it's listed as the Helix potty trowel, not the Helix ice axe).

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Shovels - MYOG on 02/17/2010 20:35:39 MST Print View

> is there a MYOG article on your aluminium thing?
Sorry, but no. Too simple maybe? However ... herewith.
8231SnowScraper

I misquoted the dimensions earlier: this is only 10" wide and less than 5" across. The gauge is something weird, but about 1 mm thick. It is a hard alloy, such as 7075. Weight is 70 g.

You can buy a piece of 7075 alloy 12" x 12" x 1.02 mm from OnLine metals:
http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=10611&step=4&showunits=mm&id=916&top_cat=60
for the princely sum of US$11.13 +P&P. It will make 2 scrapers.
Bending as shown to stiffen - ingenuity, or get a local sheet metal worker to guillotine and bend for you.

If you want to be really really exotic you could use 0.5 mm 6Al4V titanium sheet, but I am not convinced you need to. The 7075 alloy has lasted me for years.

I use the big side as a spade, and the short side as a scraper when making a tent platform. I can use the big side or the end as a knife to chop into very hard snow to create blocks. To make this tent platform with one of these would have taken Sue and me about 15 minutes:
Tent showing corners
Scrape & dig, stomp, scrape & dig, stomp, shave the surface smooth, pitch tent.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 02/17/2010 20:37:24 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Re: Shovels - MYOG on 02/17/2010 20:51:54 MST Print View

Roger,

Intriguing gadget. I confess, I have no idea how large a volume of work that can reasonably do -- would it be reasonable for you to use it to carve out one of those palatial snow kitchens we have see photos of on this site?

-- Bob

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Shovels - MYOG on 02/17/2010 23:17:07 MST Print View

> would it be reasonable for you to use it to carve out one of those palatial snow
> kitchens we have see photos of on this site?

No matter what size backhoe you have, there is always a job which is too big for it. :-)

If you are talking about a kitchen pit for 2 - 3 people, I would say no worries. If you want to accommodate 10 people (and I have seen a photo with that many around the 'table'!), then I would suggest you might need several of them wielded by several people.

However, I never even bother with a 'kitchen'. Too much effort. I sprawl in comfort on my airmat inside my tent and cook in the vestibule in great comfort.

Getting back to the thread - one of these should serve Andrew quite well imho, unless he wants to dig a huge snow cave. But snow caves and high speed travel are not compatible.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 02/17/2010 23:18:24 MST.