Skiing the John Muir Trail
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Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Why such heavy ski gear? on 05/31/2010 19:27:44 MDT Print View

Hi Ross

Believe it or not, Australia has a larger AREA of snow in the winter than Europe. Perhaps not quite as much vertical however ... :-) So yes, we walk our Alps in the Spring and Autumn and XC ski them in the winter.
.
Jagungal
The view from the summit of Mt Jagungal, one of our favourite places. NNN-BC boots on; our skis are 20 m down the rocks in the saddle.
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Snow tent V1
Camp in Straight Creek on a 5 day trip. As the snow depth is not that much we are usually able to find water - see water bag at corner of tent.
.
Heading across Strumbo Range 2005 0794
Heading across Strumbo Range in 2005

Yeah, we LIKE light-weight XC skiing.

Cheers

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why such heavy ski gear? on 05/31/2010 20:35:23 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger,
Those pictures are great. It makes me want to ski there even more.

Thanks Lynn,
The New Zealand terrain sounds a lot like the Cascades. Actually, I think it is similar, in that it is very rugged and quite varied. If so, that means that much of that steep 90% is simply too steep to ski. So, maybe there are a handful of places where you can ski that mellow 10%, with just a smidge of steep, but not too steep stuff thrown in. Of course, just because I think something is too steep to ski, doesn't mean there aren't folks that will ski it. For the second time in history, a group just skied the Pickets: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7981596
That third pick is rather stunning. Unlike Roger's pictures, the thought "Oh, cool, I could ski that!" doesn't cross the mind. Of course, neither does the thought "you should try it with flimsier gear".

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why such heavy ski gear? on 05/31/2010 20:44:34 MDT Print View

"The New Zealand terrain sounds a lot like the Cascades."

I haven't skied in the Cascades, but you may be right.

"So, maybe there are a handful of places where you can ski that mellow 10%, with just a smidge of steep, but not too steep stuff thrown in"

Yeah, there are a few places where you can glide along on skating skis and tracks, (sadly now commercial), but nothing you could ski for days on end without skins and telemark style skis. However I get a real buzz out of steep telemarking, so I'm not complaining. It's the fear of avalanches that holds me in check :(

On the plus side, NZ has some tremendous downhill areas to play on, something you just can't get in places like OZ. However, to get away from the crowds (and expense), ski mountaineering or heli-skiing is the way to go.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why such heavy ski gear? on 05/31/2010 20:54:43 MDT Print View

There are some seriously steep ski slopes in California. One such slope was called Extreme Skiing. Then somebody asked for a definition of Extreme Skiing. It's easy.

If you fall, you die.

--B.G.--

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why such heavy ski gear? on 06/01/2010 14:42:55 MDT Print View

I may have come across as implying that we have steeper hills than anywhere else...not my intention. Everywhere (except Oz) has some steep mountains. My comments RE: why such heavy ski gear were a bit of moaning on my part because we simply don't have the lovely undulating snow-covered hills that Australia and many parts of America have. If we did, I would happily use lighter gear and go to less demanding places to tour. Personally I prefer to avoid places where I am likely to die if I fall down! And I feel I am almost too old for steep terrain. Maybe I'll have to move to another country so I can get lighter gear :( Or maybe I just need a winter in the Snowy Mountains to the west...

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why such heavy ski gear? on 06/01/2010 17:00:49 MDT Print View

Hi Lynn

Actually, we do have some steep mountains even here in Oz. We just don't ski them as most of them have too many trees. Try Townsend Spur off Kosciusko (too many trees)
Townsend Spur (Warren H)

Or most of the West Face off Watsons Crags. Skied by some, but way too much for me!
Watsons Crags (Warren H)
Getting back up has needed crampons at times.

Cheers

Paul Davis
(pdavis) - M

Locale: Yukon, 60N 135W
Fine portrayal of decision-making in changing conditions... on 06/13/2010 18:34:54 MDT Print View

Kevin: Thanks for sharing your inner world of decision-making on your trip. It is a complex world of shifting variables---I found your use of IRIDIUM SATCOM for updated weather forecasts interesting---N. of 60 in Canada we have to do that too! Here, our problem is that there are not enough forecast weather-observation stations for accurate forecasts. Sadly, the excellent UNISYS GOES WEST IR sat weather images cannot be down-loaded on satcom! But we could SAT-phone a friend with a computer to interpret them!

Here, we also wear cut-up camp booties over lightweight touring ski boots for more warmth, or take them (plastic bagged) into our sleeping bags at night to avoid putting on cold boots.

Thanks for the article!

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Food Cache on 07/05/2010 13:40:15 MDT Print View

To complete the article I need to report that on Saturday, July 3, I went and reclaimed the food I cached last October. I was pleased to find it right where I left it in perfect shape.

I'll probably cache in the same place this fall for next year.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Food Cache on 07/05/2010 16:09:50 MDT Print View

> I'll probably cache in the same place this fall for next year.

And you are not saying where that was? :-)

Cheers

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Food Cache on 07/05/2010 17:07:54 MDT Print View

Nope. Though the decisions about where to cache in the snow were interesting ones.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Food Cache on 07/06/2010 22:16:24 MDT Print View

Kevin - without getting into where you cached, I'd be interested to hear about your mode of cacheing, as I am considering a cache for a ski trip next year and have been mulling the alternatives.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Food Cache on 07/06/2010 22:34:40 MDT Print View

My criteria were:
1. I had to be able to get there in the fall reasonably conveniently.
2. The spot had to be easy to find in winter.
3. The spot had to be at least 1/4-1/2 mile from any trail or camp.
4. The cache could not be located in an avalanche prone area.

I considered burying or ground level caches but with the very deep Sierra snowpack felt thay wouldn't be safe.

I considered setting it on the ground beside a huge exposed bolder (many are wind scoured and free of snow around the edges) but wasn't sure which bolder wouldn't be buried.

I considered stashing it in a bear box but for reasons of security and snow depth discarded this idea.

I ended up using a BearVault canister, double wrapped with a heavy gague plastic trash bag and in a stuff sack. I hung it hung from and secured it to a tree (a climbable one) with heavy spectra rope. I knew bears couldn't get to the food but if they knocked it down and it became buried under snow away from where I hung it I'd never find it. I avoided hollows where snow would accumulate instead chose a small knoll.

I marked the spot with GPS coordinates but it was so distinct I didn't really need them. There are many other possibilities depending on snow depth and available terrain. Just choose someplace very distinct, consider what it will look like in the winter, mark it with GPS (I also considered marking with surveyor's tape a specific distance and bearing from the cache for a ground level cache).

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Food Cache on 07/09/2010 22:18:59 MDT Print View

Kevin - thanks for the details. That sounds very much like what I had been thinking of doing - if I end up doing it.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: New Generation AT gear. on 01/12/2011 13:58:52 MST Print View

"However I'd be surprised if a full skins off/skins on cycle could be accomplished in 50 seconds."

check out these videos - meant for newbie training, not even competition footage:

http://www.ussma.org/cosmic/learn/technique/technique-videos

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
transitions. on 01/12/2011 14:15:16 MST Print View

So about 1:30 down to up and :30 up to down--he could probably be ~20 seconds faster if he wasn't talking so it's close to a minute.

Peter Burke
(Fishmonger) - F

Locale: Midwest
next winter on 01/12/2011 14:38:09 MST Print View

by the way - I am pretty much set to do the JMT on AT gear next winter - I'm using this year to do some gear testing and to set up caches later in the year with a special late fall trip. Been there 15 times in spring/summer/fall, so it's time to push the envelope into the 4th season.

anyone have similar plans for March and/or April 2012?

I'm using Dynafit bindings with Scarpa F1 boots, full skins, and I generally leave them on as much as I can, because I am no real downhill skier to begin with. I just chose this gear for its clear advantages on all sorts of snow, including fresh powder, crampon compatibility, floatation, etc.

by the way - not sure if this past posted here on BPL - another JMT on Tele ski:
JMT April 2010