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45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list)
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/21/2014 09:38:11 MST Print View

Brendan Swihart and I are heading to the central Grand Canyon in mid-March. Our route will take eight days. There will be no resupply. We'll be descending three technical slot canyons, and ascending three semi-technical slots. We'll have two packraft river crossings while traveling upstream, as well as a downstream floating section. Miles of established trail on the ~150 (very approximate) route number less than 10.

My gear list can be found here:

Brendan will be carrying some of the rope listed above, but with ~3 liters of water onboard at the start I'll be right around 45 pounds. His list looks much the same, though due to better calorie selection and a few other differences his pack will be a bit lighter than mine.

There isn't a light way to do this trip. Our rope gear is as light as it can get. We could probably make due with much lighter boats (Supai, Klymit, etc) and paddles, but I like a real paddle, and we both already own Scouts. My pack looks heavy, but has fully double layered fabric throughout, a reinforced haul handle, and a suspension to carry 45 pounds or more. It was built specifically for a trip like this one.

Fire away.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: 45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/21/2014 09:44:39 MST Print View


Ryan Slack
(RWSlack) - F

Locale: Minnesota
what a trip! on 02/21/2014 10:32:23 MST Print View

Looks very smart, hard to see any superfluous gear. Will keep an eye out for your report! I'm not familiar with the area, but will you be required to carry out human waste while in the river corridor?

Doesn't seem like with all that weight, and crossing upstream, doubling up in one boat is realistic. How much of your trip is just walking, where trekking poles would be useful? Could you just bring a paddle that also can be a staff (rubber tip)?

Be safe.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: what a trip! on 02/21/2014 11:12:35 MST Print View

We won't have to wag bag it, thankfully. Only one night where we'll likely be camping at river level.

To be clear, we'll each have a boat. Between the beatdown the initial descent will put on my quads and a long day or two of cobble hopping, two trekking poles will be worthwhile. Not a fan of subjecting my high dollar carbon paddle shaft to that kind of beating.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

GC List on 02/22/2014 06:21:27 MST Print View

What are these 6oz Patagonia pants? Sol Patrol? They seem really light for "hiking pants" (as opposed to an infrequently deployed "wind pant").

Edited by dandydan on 02/22/2014 08:11:28 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: GC List on 02/22/2014 08:06:10 MST Print View

I can't recall the name, bought them at the outlet years ago. They're some kind of light supplex which is pretty airy but remarkably tough. Choosing them for sun protection as well as the one section of upriver tamarisk bashing we'll do.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Light pants on 02/22/2014 08:38:02 MST Print View

Over the years I have found several unlined runners/track "warm up" pants are in the 6oz range.

Ryan Slack
(RWSlack) - F

Locale: Minnesota
2 boats on 02/22/2014 08:51:33 MST Print View

Sorry, it was my post that wasn't clear, not your list. I got that you were planning on each taking a boat, and in my post was dismissing the possibility of getting away with less. I definitely trust your judgement on the trekking poles especially with your explanation of the downhill sections.

"There isn't a light way to do this trip." --Yes there is, and it looks a lot like what you're doing. 45 pounds is easy for plenty of people to justify on a nontechnical summer backpacking trip. All-in, you are very light. On a related *thread drift* note: I think the sentiment "there isn't a light way to do this trip" is applied too often in nontechnical areas, similar to HYOH, that leads people to pack not just for the conditions of their area but their worst fears about that area as well. I would be interested to look more into whether casual readers and occasional light-to-fairly-heavy packers might find a page where a well-respected writer such as yourself says "there isn't a light way" and packs 45 pounds, and they use that to justify bringing a 3-4 season double-walled tent because it rains a lot in the summer where they hike (because HYOH can be used as the last word/trump card negating the possibility of introspection or improvement).

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
RE: 45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/22/2014 12:38:04 MST Print View

It sounds like a fabulous adventure!

I won't lie to you -- those Tamarisks are a bear to bash through (unless the Nov. controlled flood washed some away).

A few thoughts...

Weather -- Totally unpredictable in early March, both in terms of temperatures and rainfall. But you can at least get a forecast via NOAA a few days in advance. Nights will likely be cold (sometimes even at the river), but you can always wear some clothes to sleep.

Clothing -- It's COLD in those slot canyons, so I wonder whether some neoprene (or similar) gloves might come in handy.

Water -- It looks like you'll have a 6L capacity. Without knowing more about your route, I can't comment on the adequacy, but it seems sufficient to me, especially considering that most of your time will be spent in cold shady slots!

Other -- Be aware that near the river there can be some ticks.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Techical gear on 02/22/2014 15:56:12 MST Print View

Is your longest Rapell 120ft or is that the length of rope you have? Not sure if it is worth cutting the pull cord or bluewater rope to half the max rappel length. Do you really need 100ft of webbing as usually that is an excessive amount ( although some times you need it). I guess my general question is can better beta of the rappels allow you to cut rope or webbing.

I dont see a helmet on your list. To me a helmet in a canyon is as essential as flotation in water.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Techical gear on 02/22/2014 16:43:13 MST Print View

Max rap length is 105 feet. I prefer a little wiggle room just to be sure. I might go with 80 feet of webbing, but two of the slots are natural anchors only, and I prefer to be able to rig anchors to my liking to (among other things) minimize the chance of rope getting stuck.

There are certainly cases when they are a good idea, but I disagree with the recent orthodoxy that helmets are mandatory in all technical slots. Most of the time non-person induced rockfall is unlikely, so as long as your partner doesn't drop rocks on you and you don't fall over, there are no problems.

Wetsuits were certainly considered. They're sort of multiuse, in that they aren't bad sleeping pads. In the end we swapped to the less wet fork of one canyon (the fork we wanted to do would have a required a 5mm full, which was a bridge too far) which allowed us to go without. I have no doubt that on at least one occasion we will be very cold due to wading.

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
warmth of socks and dry bag questions on 02/25/2014 09:21:13 MST Print View

This trip looks like lots of fun. My two comments are:

1) Hydroskin socks are just .5mm neoprene, but NRS claims "magical warmth" to their unique neoprene formulation (titanium adhesive etc.). All I know is that it's not as warm as 2.5mm neoprene that I often use in similar conditions (called "wading socks"). However, I find the hydroskins useable in prolonged cold stretches if you wear a wool sock under it. Even wet, the wool sock makes it significantly warmer.

2) Also......I'm just curious. What kind of drybags are your 3 13L drt bags?

3)Like someone else had said.....neoprene gloves would be nice since your hands will be wet. Therefore, something that will give you some warmth even when you stick your wet hands into them would be nice. No name 2-3 neoprene gloves (especially with a thin fleece lining glued on the inside surface are great). But I've seen that tolerance for cold hands is very much a personal thing.....I'm a weenie in this department :)

Edited by chinookhead on 02/25/2014 09:33:16 MST.

Nick Smolinske
(Smo) - F

Locale: Rogue Panda Designs
Double length runner for harness on 02/25/2014 09:23:55 MST Print View


This isn't going to do much, but you can use a double length runner as a harness (if it fits your body well). I do that for canyoneering all the time. Use a clove hitch to attach an autoblock biner if you use one (I do, every time, every rappel). Practice first to get comfortable with it, of course. Again, with the weight of the ropes in consideration, another 6 ounces isn't a big deal here, especially for descending 3 technical canyons. I usually bring the runner when I have to do just one or two raps.

This is a non sequitor from the talk of just gear, but I'm a huge fan of the autoblock (mounted below your belay device, never above). But the length of the autoblock cord has to be just right (within an inch really) to balance between safety and usability (I use 47 inches before tying double fisherman knots, for double-rope raps, slightly shorter for single rope).

Are you bringing rappel rings? I didn't see them on there.

I hike off trail in the GC a lot and have never found a compass to be useful. I just bring a topo map as my only navigation (my trusty 1994 trails illustrated, the best version made IMO).

I would probably require a wet suit for this trip (I do *not* do well in cold water). The one time I've done a wet canyon it was in May, in good weather, with a 3 mil wetsuit, and I was freezing (but survived). Similar in elevation to the GC.

Also, I once rapped onto a log floating in a pool and managed to avoid an otherwise inevitable swim. Could you rap onto your packrafts if necessary? ;)

Edited by Smo on 02/25/2014 09:26:11 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: warmth of socks and dry bag questions on 02/25/2014 09:25:16 MST Print View

Drybags are a combo of Sea to Summit Ultrasil and OR Lightweight. I may switch these around and double-bag my sleeping bag and insulated coat.

Cold hands are way down on my list of concerns. I'm going to add a warm beanie (Dynafit logo, wool/acrylic blend) in addition to the buff to serve that end.

I'm hoping we don't have to swim in either of the wet canyons. As any canyon hiker knows, being wet above the waist is a different game entirely. I've been adding a bit more dark beer and ice cream to my training routine to make sure my integral core insulation stays at an optimal level

Edited by DaveC on 02/25/2014 09:31:48 MST.

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
Dry bags? on 02/25/2014 09:59:40 MST Print View

1) The double bag idea for critical sensitive garments sounds good since you are using the sea to summit ultra sil dry bags. My experience with these bags under prolonged wet condition is that my gear got very wet (the entire inside surface gets moist even when new). However, I have no experience with the OR dry sacks. The lightest dry sacks that I've found to work under these conditions are the Sea to Summit Evac dry sacks. However, each 13 L sack would be 1 oz. heavier (2.4 oz. vs. 1.4 oz.). Perhaps Sea to Summit has improved this since 4 years ago?

2) I like the hat idea. My dad used to tell me when I complained about cold hands: "put on a hat"!

Brendan S
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Re: 45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/25/2014 11:01:44 MST Print View

Here's my list. Like Dave said, pretty similar to his.

Should be a healthy mix of suffering and splendor.

Thomas Rayl
(trayl) - MLife

Locale: SE Tx
45 pounds of UL on 02/25/2014 14:19:20 MST Print View

Ryan S. touched on it in passing, but I'll expand the question... What is the nature of your two stream crossings? Is that the ONLY reason for the two packrafts? You're already carrying significant rope/line, could your crossing be made with a single raft, trailing a line for #2 to pull it back then cross with the same boat? Doesn't work if the water's too wide or fast or if you're planning on floating some distance, of course, but if JUST for a couple of river crossings...

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: 45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/27/2014 15:08:37 MST Print View

Made a few tweaks, to add more warmth and redundancy with multiple water containers, and went with a bit less webbing.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: 45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/27/2014 15:19:17 MST Print View

A Teaser ....

...while we wait for this trip report.

(If you "Select" the text in the first post it will highlight, and you'll be able to read it.)

Edited by greg23 on 02/27/2014 15:25:22 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Re: 45 pounds of UL (Grand Canyon list) on 02/27/2014 15:22:17 MST Print View

We'll be in that general neighborhood, though not that canyon. Dan and others gave some good beta which helped us pick a route which kept technical gear weight down while still ensuring what should be a fantastic, varied hike. I'm psyched to hike on dirt for the first time since late November.