LIST: SUL below freezing possible?
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Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
LIST: SUL in Everest-like weather possible? on 03/29/2014 16:22:54 MDT Print View

Hi all,

Please have at it. I think this may be as light as possible. Def looking for suggestions.
Location: Mount Washington, NH
Conditions: Extreme winter, heavy wind around 100ph, temps -5F to 25F, windchill -50 to -75f at times
Altitude: 6000ft
Length:1-2 days
Overnights below treeline in non-windy spots

List
http://lighterpack.com/r/9e03ch

Thanks,
Gary

Edited by gosha007 on 03/30/2014 07:45:49 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 03/29/2014 16:29:04 MDT Print View

I think the high wind is the worst part of the weather there.

But, what do I know? I've been up there only twice.

--B.G.--

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Water on 03/29/2014 17:03:22 MDT Print View

You are seriously under estimating how much you will need to drink with a 10oz container and no real snow melting ability.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Water on 03/29/2014 17:08:16 MDT Print View

Valid point about the water, for sure. But I have been up there many times and know of a number of open water sources so water amount is not really too much of a concern.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker)

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Water on 03/29/2014 17:46:03 MDT Print View

I think your biggest issue is going to be good active layers that allow you to regulate your temperature easily.

Look at this thread:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=1435

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Ha! on 03/29/2014 21:36:38 MDT Print View

That's a fantastic thread, love it. Reading through it now. It's dauntingly long - over a thousand posts. Anything that stood out to you and really made a difference?

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Active layers on 03/29/2014 22:05:49 MDT Print View

Justin - regarding the active layers. Maybe you can suggest a better system.

So far, I usually sweat very little to none using the current system. I originally had Smartwool light-mid weight base layer, which was great, but didn't dry fast enough. Replace with Patagonia Cap 4 – even better breathability and much faster drying time. Negative - it stinks, unlike wool. A LOT.

The windshirt comes in and out during windy times to warm up the core. When temps dip into the low teens, the PossumDown sweater plus or minus possumdown vest on top add warmth and also high breathability. With the shell, it's comfy when moving down to 5-8F. Above that I switch to the down shell and hood. By that point I'm usually on exposed ridge, above treeline, covered head to toe because of the wind.

Seems to work well, but I think it could be better. Looking for suggestions to lighten up.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 03/29/2014 23:35:47 MDT Print View

Of course.
Ryan Jordon managed a weekend some years ago in the snow with a 5 lb base weight. It can be done.
He had two problems:
* his stove arrangement was unstable, and the pot fell over
* it was too WARM, so he had to cope with wet snow - which he had not allowed for.

Cheers

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 03/30/2014 02:46:11 MDT Print View

I am not exactly sure how 13.25 pounds qualifies as "SUL".

At 13 pounds just about any trail in the entire USA can be done, summer or winter.

There are folks every year who do hiking in 5°f temperatures with not only sub 10 pounds, but sub 5 pounds.

So, "UL below freezing possible?".... uhhh, yes... and even if you define SUL as 13 pounds.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 03/30/2014 06:11:26 MDT Print View

John, I think he was just asking if this was possible. As you say, some people do.

This is my problem with strict weight definitions for packing. SUL only includes your base weight. If SUL plus consumables is used for a definition, then everything that is used up can be excluded. Food, fuel and water are normally excluded. This could also exclude soap, AM drops, spare batteries, etc. Pack weight of 13.25pounds is good for any time, and *could* include SUL. Another "undefined" item is what you are wearing and what is in your pockets. Even pack weight does not pick that up, soo some use FSO (from skin out.) But, looking at his list, his pack, clothing, sleeping gear, shelter, cooking gear, etc all add up to around 8 pounds, I stopped after that, realizing what he was asking. I think you might have misunderstood also.

I agree with the others, more fuel and more water would be a lot better.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
SUL definition on 03/30/2014 07:28:31 MDT Print View

John,

I very much respect your writing, but the reader before is right. I'm not calling my weight SUL (just yet,) I'm trying to get there. What's more is a ton of my stuff is pro photo equipment.

However.

After modifying some things, my base weight is now 9lbs. Now, mind you, this is 9lbs in weather conditions that are similar to some days on Everest. Ryan Jordan's hike did not have near freezing temps with over 100mph winds. Wind chill conditions at Mt. Washington in past weeks were around -60 to -75F BELOW freezing.

Thus, I'm going to restate my main point. Can SUL be possible safely in truly extreme conditions? Extreme in every sense of the word. Frostbite in this weather is guaranteed in just a few seconds if you do things wrong. This is not summer conditions where you can get away with being slightly cold and close to the edge. You absolutely have to be warm, while not overheating. Thus, being fully decked from the start in head to toe VB gear won't work. That is why I'm asking all of you to please chip in with that in mind because I don't know how to possibly make through with less than 9lbs and be safe.

Will def add more water and fuel. What else? Can this list have a dramatic change and lose two-three pounds?

Thanks,
G

Edited by gosha007 on 03/30/2014 07:47:22 MDT.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Cold and wet on Mt. Washington. on 03/30/2014 12:41:11 MDT Print View

I have several concerns with the safety of your gear list:

How durable are your shell jacket and pants? Will they survive crawling on rock for a distance? If the wind is too high, you can't stand up and will need to crawl. Will they be waterproof crawling through puddles and wet snow? Will walking through branches and bushes below tree line rip them? Will they rip apart in very high winds? I'm skeptical of such light fabric in these conditions.

You need a good hood design for the high winds you may encounter; I can't tell from the pictures how good the zpacks hood is.

If you're doing this soon, you need to be prepared for rain and very wet conditions. You may be too dependent on down for the wet conditions we've been having. Wool or fleece hats and mittens would be a lot better than down mitts for warmth. Gloves and mittens get wet and get blown away in high winds, so you need spares. Also, you may not have enough flexibility in layering for the range of conditions you may encounter.

Hiking poles can be useful for walking in wind.

If you encounter cold temps I'm skeptical of the warmth of your foot gear. Will they be adequate for walking through wet snow and puddles followed by temps of 0F?

It's probably easier if the weather is guaranteed to dry and cold, but that's not the case this spring in the White Mtns. Today's forecast is for 1" to 3" of RAIN below 4000'!!!

You may need snowshoes, but you can probably find that out the morning you start.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 03/31/2014 04:32:24 MDT Print View

I love how some of you guys took just ONE of my sentences and decided to make an issue out of it... and it was the least important of the four sentences I wrote.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
No worries on 03/31/2014 06:32:26 MDT Print View

John,

Sorry, no worries. Would be great to hear your thoughts on the above responses.

Gary

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Mt. Washington avalanche. on 04/01/2014 07:53:56 MDT Print View

There was an avalanche on the summit cone of Mt. Washington on March 29. Check the avalanche forecast:
http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 04/01/2014 08:03:51 MDT Print View

Can SUL be possible safely in truly extreme conditions?


You keep asking these questions but I have yet to see you define what these three variables mean to you.


So, help us answer your question.

(1) What do YOU define as "SUL"?
(2) What do YOU define as "possible safe"?
(3) What do YOU define as "truly extreme conditions"?


Somebody like me might turn into a popsicle at zero degrees, yet some of these guys I see from places like MN, AK, Canada and elsewhere, are out there in -20° and having a blast. Until you define these three things, all the rest of us can do is give guess-answers.

So yeah, totally willing to share my thoughts, but I'd rather not just shoot in the dark... give us some clear definitions to work with.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 04/01/2014 19:05:18 MDT Print View

Very good. Answers below:

3) What do YOU define as "truly extreme conditions"?
100+ mph winds and blowing snow, sometimes with whiteout conditions. Solid ice trail segments and bitter cold. In the winter it's 5F to -12F (windchills -60F) now a bit warmer. The extreme part is mostly wind. It's so strong sometimes you can't stand up. Some of the climbers heading to Himalayas practice dealing with weather here on this mountain range before climbing the 8000m peaks.


(1) What do YOU define as "SUL"?
(2) What do YOU define as "possible safe"?
With the above conditions described, I'm thus tempted to treat "SUL" or Will's "Mountain SUL" differently in this case. I truly don't know how "6lb" and less can be safely achieved in such conditions. if the gear doesn't work, there is no turning back or toughing it out. If you mess up with gear when it's blowing, it takes 30 seconds for frost bite to form. In the Rockies, Montana or California it can get kind of cold, but never that windy. So "true SUL" can be done there. But I'm tempted to treat Mount Washington differently. I may be wrong. Hope that answers the other two questions.

All the above being said, if there is a way to do 6-5lb base weight here, that's what I would your advice on how to get close that weight. You all have a ton of experience - would be great to hear good advice.

Thanks as always,
Gary

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 04/01/2014 19:20:41 MDT Print View

What is the lightest weight shelter in the world that can handle "100+ mph winds, blowing snow, whiteout conditions" ??

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 04/01/2014 19:55:07 MDT Print View

You'd never camp above treeline when the wind is so strong. I always camp below the trees when the shit hits the fan. The trees really reduce the wind. So Locus Gear Khufu Sill with a short snow fort around it works really well. I use fully protected Black Diamond Firstlight if it's really windy. But comparatively, that's a heavy shelter (2+ pounds)

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: LIST: SUL below freezing possible? on 04/02/2014 05:30:58 MDT Print View

I asked because I have no flipping idea what kind of a shelter can survive 100+ mph winds... and figured we should figure out what the worlds lightest shelter is that CAN survive that... and from there we can have a starting point to figure out a gear setup. I pretty much know most of the rest of the gear setup... but I have never even been close to 100+ mph wind, more or less spent the night in one.

So, perhaps other can chime in and once we get the shelter figured out, the rest should be fairly easy... most of us already know the lightest/best sleeping bags and parkas that can handle the claimed conditions you have set... so really just need to figure out this shelter issue.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Shelter on 04/02/2014 07:29:21 MDT Print View

John - no issues with current shelter. I won't be camping in the 100+ mph wind, just hiking in it. At night, I would come down to the trees. If it's 100mpj above trees, it's only about 20-30 in the trees.

Plus, even if we found the shelter that can survive the 100 mile winds I don't think you would be able to sleep inside due to the flapping and the noise.

What about the rest of the setup?

Marc Cryer
(18Rabbit) - M

Locale: New England/Quebec
Planning seems appropriate if you keep moving on 04/05/2014 14:33:38 MDT Print View

I think your gear seems appropriate assuming you won't be staying above the treeline too long and you keep moving and are ready to head down and out if things don't work out well. I've done a fair amount of cold weather hiking in frigid environments and to be honest I've never managed to do it SUL. Are you traveling alone? I'll also have to admit the most frightening experience I've ever had was not being able to stay warm on a solo hike in the Sierras above Fresno in the winter of 2003 or 04, can't remember the year but despite packing a ton of gear gear, having been out on similar trips numerous times, and being in relatively good health I just couldn't keep warm and had to bug out and down as quickly as I could. Still can't explain why I couldn't keep my core temperature up but my take away lesson was never say never on a solo trip; always be ready to head back. That's all obvious advice though. Hope it works out well.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: LIST: SUL in Everest-like weather possible? on 04/06/2014 19:59:50 MDT Print View

Gary, what is your actual plan? and when? these things kinda make a difference up there. there isn't a lot of "below treeline" The observation building and tourist buildings are closed in the winter, Lake of the Clouds is closed in winter.

http://www.newenglandtrailconditions.com/nh/ dunno if you know about the trail condition site.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Your gear is LIGHT on 04/07/2014 18:56:46 MDT Print View

The gear you list is some of the lightest on this planet. I'm NO expert, but I don't think you can reduce weight safely.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: LIST: SUL in Everest-like weather possible? on 04/09/2014 20:54:42 MDT Print View

Conditions: Extreme winter, heavy wind around 100ph, temps -5F to 25F, windchill -50 to -75f at times
Altitude: 6000ft
Length:1-2 days

"Overnights below treeline in non-windy spots"

No guarantee that in white-outs, extreme weather, etc. you can safely get down to below treeline.

SUL? UL?

Sounds like a potential Darwin Award to me.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: LIST: SUL in Everest-like weather possible? on 04/09/2014 21:01:08 MDT Print View

Remember SUL has no defined weight definition now that Ryan says so. Could be 50 pounds of stuff if that is the minimum required to carry you through in comfort and safety.


http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sul-mindset-jordan.html#.U0YKA15d1nE

Edited by kthompson on 04/09/2014 21:04:32 MDT.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Regarding weather on 04/09/2014 21:40:16 MDT Print View

Yes, during white-outs it could be extremely difficult to orient. I wouldn't try to focus on SUL in conditions like this if I didn't have a good grasp of local terrain. People have, indeed, died up there in winter and summer, largely because if hypothermia.

If a total white out does happen, it doesn't last that long. If it does, there a number of massive boulders in which you could hide from the wind. With 0F sleeping gear/bivy and full clothing with a Nunatak parka and down pants, you can get by overnight even in -15F temps.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Regarding weather on 04/09/2014 21:54:32 MDT Print View

If a total white out does happen, it doesn't last that long... except when it does last a long time. If it does, there is a number of massive boulders in which you could hide from the wind... except in the areas where there are no boulders. The Alpine Garden Trail comes to mind.

Anecdote: On the first time I climbed Mount Washington, I got an early start, got to the summit, shot a photo, and started down immediately. I reached timberline as the storm was hitting, so I reached the bottom safely and drove home. There was a stranger who had started from the bottom about an hour later than I had, so he got up near the summit and got pinned down out in the open when the storm hit. He was lucky enough to call 911 and reach the emergency dispatcher, so a rescue was called despite the terrible conditions. The rescue snow cat came up the road and found the stranger still pinned down, so they scooped him up and got him to the hospital.

Now, I'm guessing here, but if the storm hit before his call, and then the storm was still blowing after rescue got there, it must have been 2-4 hours minimum. Oh, well, what's a little frostbite?

--B.G.--

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Regarding weather on 04/10/2014 07:06:47 MDT Print View

agree Bob.. the entire north face going down to Lake of the clouds is all low rocks and gets hammered with wind.

He ignored my question of an actual plan with bailout plan so it seems like a lot of talk with out any action. it won't happen this year as it's turning into slush and probably monorail season soon.

I honestly tell people that the Presi's are better as a day hike. any time of year. Unless you're going to spend $$ for huts then it is much easier to do a day hike than overnight. There is just nowhere to stay up there and the extra weight of gear slows you down.

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Regarding weather on 04/10/2014 08:14:23 MDT Print View

Jake,

I'm sorry, but I don't think I ignored your question. My main point was - in a whiteout, you're in a bad situation, wether or not you're SUL. With the stuff I'm taking you can easily spend a night up there if you are out of the wind. If you are not SUL and don't get out of the wind, you're in the same bad situation b/se no simple tent can tolerate such wind speeds. In any situation you need to camp in a protected area or below treeline and know the conditions and the area very well before spending the night.

I personally spent a few night up on Washington during winter storms. Wasn't very smart, but it is what it is.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: Re: Regarding weather on 04/10/2014 10:25:36 MDT Print View

I asked what your plan was. Where are you going to, from, staying?

i just skipped carrying much of anything and did Presi in a day and Pemi in a day during the summer ;)

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Regarding weather on 04/10/2014 11:13:27 MDT Print View

@Jake - Ah, I see what you mean. Yeah, President in a day is great in the summer, esp in sunny weather. I've done a winter Presi traverse in one day with some friends. That was probably the hardest and the most taxing thing I've ever done. We did it in 14 hours and my feet were bloody from the plastic boots. Couldn't walk for a day after... That was with about 25lbs. Ever since I wanted to go and do Presies in SUL fashion. Much less taxing on your feet.

This time the plan is to go from Pinkham to a camp by Jefferson and then go back. Going for two days.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Presidential traverse (White Mtns, NH) escape routes. on 04/10/2014 13:22:58 MDT Print View

Here's a very useful list of escape routes for a presidential traverse. Keep in mind that people have been trapped while knowing the exact bearing to follow to get below treeline because the wind was too strong to allow travel in that direction.
http://www.chauvinguides.com/presitraverse/presiescapes.pdf

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Presidential traverse (White Mtns, NH) escape routes. on 04/10/2014 13:55:48 MDT Print View

"wind was too strong"

You know the wind is too strong when you can't even get up to crawl.

Been there, done that.

--B.G.--

Gary Pikovsky
(gosha007) - F - M

Locale: New Hampshire White Mountains
Super windy and cold SUL on 04/10/2014 15:28:18 MDT Print View

So any SUL gear tips for winter and shoulder season Presies?

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Super windy and cold SUL on 04/10/2014 17:57:38 MDT Print View

if you say so. i don't like being cold so it all sounds bad to me. i stick with day hike/snowshoes in the winter.

looks like Sphinx Col would be your best bet for a campsite.
http://www.chauvinguides.com/presitraverse/presicampguide.htm