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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 18:33:13 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 19:36:14 MDT Print View

Great format for a trip report. I especially liked Darin's before and after equipment discussion...

Jennifer W
(tothetrail) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal.
Great Job! on 03/16/2010 19:36:52 MDT Print View

Loved the videos and the gear breakdown. I especially liked the conclusion with the gear review.

Looked like a fun trip, thanks for the report!

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
Condensation issues.... on 03/16/2010 19:36:55 MDT Print View

I'm guessing the sleeping bag wetted out for two possible reasons:

1) Not having a dry change of clothes to sleep in after a high-exertion day on the trail?

2) The bivy held in the warm damp vapor from the clothing and breathing?

It might have been better had it been colder?

I'm still trying to understand the Dark Arts of condensation.....

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 20:13:43 MDT Print View

I really liked the video format of this report; especially the equipment being utilized and the post trip comments. We can all learn from "what goes wrong" as much as "what goes right".

How did Mike fair regarding his sleeping bag moisture accumulation?

Thank you for a fun and informative report!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Crater Lake on 03/16/2010 20:34:45 MDT Print View

I was a member of a group of X-C skiers that did a circumnavigation of Crater Lake. It took us 48 hours.

We had the same set of problems with condensation on tents and sleeping bags.

Other than that, it is a great place for winter travel.

--B.G.--

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 21:17:02 MDT Print View

>> How did Mike fair regarding his sleeping bag moisture accumulation?


Hi All-

This trip was great fun. The ranger at Crater Lake told us that we were the (at the time) only group to successfully make it around the lake this year. And, he was amazed that we did it on snowshoes in three days in those conditions. I credit Darin with his ability to do the lion's share of the trail breaking and drag my old bones through the snow.

I had only 20 grams of accumulated moisture in my sleep system...but my pack was a lot heavier than Darin's. ;)

The forecast was for heavy snow and high winds, and I wasn't expecting long-mileage days, so I packed fairly heavy:

While hiking, I mostly wore a lightweight synthetic zip-T (Golite C-thru) under a Paramo Quito shell. On my legs, I had C-thru tights under Arcteryx Alpha SL pants, with REI Spring Gaiters. The system absorbed very little moisture and vented superbly.

I used a Nunatak Arc quilt for sleeping over an overstuffed Nunatak Skaha Plus jacket with BPL Cocoon 60 pants. I was very warm -- I didn't even need the quilt until the wee hours of the mornings.

My shelter was a Stephenson Warmlite 2C tent, which I very highly regard. It was kind of overkill for the conditions we actually had, but would no doubt have been awesome if it turned out windier or snowier. (We had only an inch or two of snow and occasional gusts up to 30 mph on the second night.)

-Mike

Edited by MikeMartin on 03/16/2010 21:19:56 MDT.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 21:26:58 MDT Print View

On re-reading the following, I see it could sound critical. Please do not take it that way -- I am just being inquisitive.

I assume that any incremental warmth the bivy provides was not needed, since Darin had a 15* sleeping bag as well as insulated clothing. I wonder whether the sleeping bag would have gotten less wet with a tent instead of a bivy sack? It is true that a tent, especially a single layer tent, will condense moisture -- however a lot less of that condensation should make it into the sleeping bag. Some dampness / condensation, sure, but not as much as this report said if you are careful about the frost on the tent.

What does that suggestion say about weight? Well, this report had a 14 oz bivy sack, plus 20 oz of water in the sleeping bag. If a tent would avoid most of that water in the sleeping bag, then a 2# tent would break even on weight and be more comfortable. If you are willing to plan on combining cooking and tent for the two people, then you would have 4# for a two-person tent (easily beaten) and carry one stove (plenty for two people sharing cooking) instead of two stoves.

What is the feeling about skis vs snowshoes? For a 33 mile on-road trip, wouldn't skis be a more efficient way to travel? I note Bob G's 48-hour trip on skis.

I did not understand the comment about a bigger Perpetuum bottle meaning less snow melting. Was the point increased efficiency in melting a fixed amount of water (fewer stove starts, more efficient to melt it all at once)?

How did the RidgeRest work out? Did Darin feel any chill on the bottom? Did the snow beneath him show signs of having melted when he got up in the morning? I ask because just a RidgeRest seems to me a bit thin to sleep directly on the snow. (But different people have different needs.)

I note, with interest, Mike's gear for overnight and the results.

--MV

Edited by blean on 03/16/2010 21:28:57 MDT.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 21:47:06 MDT Print View

>> plus 20 oz of water in the sleeping bag.

I think Darin misspoke about his bag weight. I think the starting weight was 32oz, which would mean 10 ounces of accumulated moisture, not 20. (But I'll leave it to Darin to confirm.)

>> What is the feeling about skis vs snowshoes? For a 33 mile on-road trip, wouldn't skis be a more efficient way to travel? I note Bob G's 48-hour trip on skis.

The "on-road" part is a bit misleading. There were many places where the wind had swept the snow into "waves" up to 10 feet high, sometimes with a knife edge on top. In other places, the path of the road was obscured due to drifts and we even resorted to GPS navigation. Plus, the avy detour we did involved a lot of switchbacks through thick mixed conifers. For 80% of the trail, skis would have been much more efficient (I'd guess 50% more efficient), but for the remaining 20%, skis would have been very difficult without skins and superb ski skills.

>> bigger Perpetuum bottle meaning less snow melting.

I think Darin just wanted the capacity to carry more water to avoid stopping to melt more mid-day.

>> Ridgerest

My pad was a 3/4 length Ridgerest Deluxe. It worked flawlessly. (I prefer not to mess with inflatables in the winter. But, you'll notice in the video that I had to strap it to the bottom of my pack as it takes up HUGE volume.) ;)

Edited by MikeMartin on 03/16/2010 21:49:28 MDT.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 22:18:46 MDT Print View

I think Darin misspoke about his bag weight. I think the starting weight was 32oz, which would mean 10 ounces of accumulated moisture, not 20.

You are correct -- I picked up on a mis-speak and did not double-check it (my bad). His equipment list video shows it as 31.12 oz, so he picked up just over 10 oz of water in his bag.

-- MV

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 22:21:15 MDT Print View

Excellent video essay Darin! What mapping software did you use?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 23:04:46 MDT Print View

Nice report. Hum ... video eh? Hum ... :-)

We often have those sorts of humid conditions hovering around freezing in our mountains, but we use a tent with good ventilation. We might, sometimes, get an ounce or two of water collecting in the bags during the night, but no more than that, and not always. Based on our experience I would say the huge accumulation of water in Darin's SB was due to the bivy bag. They just don't work very well under those conditions.

Yes, you could use a VB inside the SB, but around those temperatures it really should not be necessary. On the other hand, having 2 people inside a Warmlite tent would cut the total weight, cut the condensation and increase the warmth. Yeah, I'm a bit biased in favour of a tent. What's the matter with sharing a tent anyhow?

Carrying two stoves is, imho, just so much excess weight. I reckon (on our fuel figures) you could have done the lot with Mike's stove and one full screw-thread canister. But, I would have been collecting water from creeks and the lake along the way for sure! Why burn fuel to melt snow with water nearby? OK, carping ...

Anyhow, a nice trip and a nice report. Compliments!

Cheers

Darin Banner
(dbanner) - MLife

Locale: Pacific North West
Re: Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/16/2010 23:15:07 MDT Print View

Thanks Devin. I used National Geographic TOPO!. I highly recommend it.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Crater Lake on 03/17/2010 00:07:32 MDT Print View

"Plus, the avy detour we did involved a lot of switchbacks through thick mixed conifers."

I remember one hideous avalanche path.

--B.G.--

Darin Banner
(dbanner) - MLife

Locale: Pacific North West
Re: Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/17/2010 00:18:13 MDT Print View

Bob, don't worry about sounding critical, these are good questions. As Roger said, both Mike and I could have saved weight if we would have shared a tent and stove. But I wanted to try out the bivy in those conditions and Mike claims I snore loudly (which I think is an outrageous lie) so he wanted to be able to sleep far away from me; therefore, we went independently self contained.

Yeah, that's the rub right? Looking at the weights after the trip, I would have come out even if I would have slept in my Black Diamond Mega Light instead of the bivy and would have been warmer and safer to boot. There are always going to be condensation issues with bivy sacks--especially in those conditions. Mine came from sweating and breathing inside the sleep system. Mike is the expert on this subject, but I think the problem was that the due point was somewhere between me and the outside of the bivy sack so the water vapor from my body condensed inside the bag.

I like climbing into a bivy sack better than setting up a shelter after a long day so I'm looking at a vapor barrier solution. After the trip, I put a four-ounce Adventure Medical Kits Emergency Bivvy (sic) in my sleeping bag and slept inside my Marmot bivy. The moisture that collected in my sleeping bag during the night was negligible and I think most of that came from my breathing. Of course my base layer that I slept in was wet so the next experiment is to see if I can safely/comfortably live with that in the woods.

I've traveled on various types of skis and snowshoes during winter trips and I've decided I prefer snowshoes. While we were climbing up the hill out of the Kerr valley, I was thinking to myself, "Man, I'm sure glad I'm not on skis right now."

Mike was right about the larger Perpetuum bottle: the extra water weight would be worth not having to stop as frequently on the trail to melt snow. On this route there was no running water to be had and the lake was inaccessible so melting snow was our only option.

The RidgeRest worked out great. That's all I use on the snow, but it has to be the deluxe thickness. I don't recall seeing any melt water under the pad in the morning.

Edited by dbanner on 03/17/2010 00:24:07 MDT.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/17/2010 00:44:39 MDT Print View

Darin,

breathing inside the sleep system
Ouch! Best not to do that, for exactly the reason you discovered -- your breath has a lot of water that will condense in your sleeping bag if you breathe inside it. Before going to a VB, it might be interesting to see how much less water would condense in your sleeping bag if you did not breathe inside it.

I think the problem was that the due point was somewhere between me and the outside of the bivy sack
Under those conditions, with no tent, that is certainly true. The dew point would be in your insulation. You cannot eliminate insensible perspiration (but you can block it with a VB). You can eliminate all else, though, especially moisture from your breath, and you should.

I like climbing into a bivy sack better than setting up a shelter after a long day
Is that still true if, after the long day, it is snowing heavily, blowing strongly, or both? Reasonable people may differ, but riding out a winter storm (and cooking) in a bivy sack does not sound like fun to me. Even tucked in to a comparatively sheltered spot.

worth not having to stop as frequently on the trail to melt snow ... melting snow was our only option.
Best not to have to stop during the day (in the winter). Stopping because you want to is fine, but being forced to stop in nasty conditions is best avoided. Have you tried a controlled eating of snow to get water? Done correctly, it can work just fine (provided you are active enough to be generating the requisite heat). I admit that I have not done so while using poles, and they would make it awkward; I used to do so when I was just using snowshoes and an ice axe.

I don't recall seeing any melt water under the pad in the morning.
What you would see is some ice -- where the snow melted and re-froze. If you see anything other than packed snow under you, you are leaking heat to the snow.

-- MV

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Crater Lake on 03/17/2010 01:29:40 MDT Print View

Roger wrote:
"But, I would have been collecting water from creeks and the lake along the way for sure! Why burn fuel to melt snow with water nearby?"

In the middle of winter, there are no visible creeks. The lake is visible, but it is absolutely impossible to reach. Melting snow is the only source for water.
--B.G.--

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Crater Lake on 03/17/2010 03:04:10 MDT Print View

> In the middle of winter, there are no visible creeks.
Makes it difficult. I have been known to spend 5 minutes digging down - with success.

But I was not there!

cheers

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Crater Lake Snowshoe Video Essay on 03/17/2010 06:41:16 MDT Print View

It's nice to be seeing more snow camping trip reports and this one was nice, thanks!

Regarding the bivvy condensation ... yeah, breathing anywhere but directly to the outside will be problematic. Roland Turnbull (Book if the Bivvy) doesn't pretend to have have technique that'll avoid moisture problems with waterproof/breathable bivvies without gear drying opportunities every couple days.

But breathing to the outside (sleeping with face exposed) in snowing conditions is a tough sell. A microtarp might be useful but it does mean the hassle of setting up the tarp.

Vapor barrier? I recall only one temperature data point being mentioned in the video (30-40 degrees F) ... that would be stretching my comfort threshold for vapor barrier use. But I tend to need colder temps than many so you should definitely do your own testing.

Edited by jcolten on 03/17/2010 06:42:09 MDT.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Nice! on 03/17/2010 08:30:17 MDT Print View

Hey Darin,
Interesting report. I especially like seeing the decision points along the way.