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Doing Denali Light: Post-Trip Report and Gearlist
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Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: Gearlist for timeframe on 09/02/2007 17:54:53 MDT Print View

Robert stated earlier that this is obviously not a winter gear list, so what else would you need for that? Vapor Barriers? huge down jacket? I recently pulled up two old articles that a related to such cold weather hiking and climbing. 6 years ago there was an interview with an adventure racer named Bill Merchant, who said he wore a down jacket and a 400 weight fleece all the way down to -50! Granted he also was OK with leaving out a pad for his lightest outdoor trips, but it suggests that leg insulation really isn't nearly as important as the upper body. Also the fleece is much better against conductive heat from sitting down at breaks. Another article, the arc alpinist review had a section in which the designer Don Johnston took this 20* quilt to 0 degrees in a freezer, with little leg insulation, and only his feet were cold. Obviously thermal conductivity operates differently at -50 or -40 than at 0 degrees, but would booties help stretch a "lighter" expedition bag with 30 oz or less fill? Another place to look at is Andrew Skurka's Icebox trip, where for 16 days he endured low temperatures, and put much more emphasis on vapor barrier clothing than the Denali expedition, helping preserve the little down he had and keep himself warmer in the long term.

So with these thoughts, would you really need that much for a colder expedition? I obviously have no experiance with any of these environments, but I hope some people who do could debate that.

Matt Hage
(mattagnes)

Locale: Alaska
Re: fixed lines and tiblocs on 09/02/2007 18:02:24 MDT Print View

I don’t think there is a need for a full size ascender on the West Buttress head wall. Petzl’s Accession weighs in at 6 oz compared to just over 1 oz for a Tibloc. The fixed lines are fat and they can be icy. But the angle is far from vertical (50 degrees) and you should just be using the fixed lines in place of a running belay. We were able to use the Tiblocs with no problems this season, though the lines did fill ‘em up. But the next option is to not use an ascender at all. Just attach two opposed carabiners to your daisy chain for an improvised via ferrata. Clip the fixed line and climb the up the section using your axe and crampons. Get to the next picket, sink your axe self belay style and clip around the picket. If you or your partner are to loose their footing, the ensemble of fixed ropes is very dynamic.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Windstopper Fleece on 09/02/2007 19:10:51 MDT Print View

How did you use the windstopper (I assume they were jackets)? And wich ones were they?

I had kind off come to the conclusion that WS is not breathable enough for high energy moments and to heavy/warmth for low activity moments.

How did this work out for you?

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
No Overboots? on 09/03/2007 16:56:53 MDT Print View

I am no expert, but if we do a little thought-experiment, let’s say a person who has no overboots is climbing up Denali, and at Denali Pass it is calm, sunny and a mild 0 degrees F. Then, at the “Football Field,” the wind has picked up to 20 MPH, and it is minus 20. On the summit, the wind is 30 MPH, the temp is minus 30. Back down to the “Football Field” and it is cloudy, with winds at 40 MPH and the temp at minus 40. The climber only has Koflach Degre boots, with no overboots or even super-gaiters. They say a much warmer boot is the Koflach Arctis Expe, and even warmer is the La Sportiva Olympus Mons. At Denali Pass there are several lenticular clouds above the summit, like a stack of pancakes, and it is minus 60 with winds at 60 MPH, and from a non-expert’s point of view it looks like frostbite with amputation of some of the toes for anyone wearing Koflach Degre boots with no overboots.

Edited by RobertM2S on 09/03/2007 17:18:35 MDT.

Matt Hage
(mattagnes)

Locale: Alaska
Re: No Overboots? on 09/03/2007 19:24:57 MDT Print View

Hey Robert,

What you have described is deteriorating weather conditions during a summit bid. This happens often high on Denali and has turned me around on two occasions. Twenty mph winds at 20-below put the wind chill temp into the danger zone (-48). Thirty mph winds at -30 are just brutal at -67. You will also begin to suffer from low visibility when winds on the upper mountain approach 30 mph. Forty mph brings a full lenticular on top. My personal cut off is around 15 mph at 15-below (-39).

Overboots are the norm for the West Buttress and I’ve carried them on every other trip. For our Denali Light excursion we used Intuition Denali liners, which offered a greater ‘R’ value than the stock Koflach booties. We also packed vapor barrier liners for our feet that could add about 10 degrees to our insulation. Our decision going to the mountain was that if the conditions are too cold for this set-up, then we don’t go. My partner and I don’t have any biz jacking around above 18,000 ft in conditions colder than 40-below. The human machine doesn’t produce heat as efficiently at these altitudes and the risk of frost bite is too high. We actually had a guy in Anchorage show off his frost bitten toes from this season. Not only did he have his overboots, but also 75-pounds of the lightest mountaineering gear known to man. Sometimes I wonder if overboots give a false sense of security to Denali climbers.

Our safety depended on being able to move fast in response to changing conditions. In my opinion, overboots create a hazard for the dog-tired climber descending from Denali Pass. This is a high accident area with many fatal falls. We also wanted to keep pack weight down so not to bring ourselves to exhaustion. Once the decision is made to descend, Agnes and I want to be able to move quickly and safely to a lower elevation.

MH-

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Overboots on 09/03/2007 20:43:18 MDT Print View

Matt: What if we modify the thought experiment a little, and it is a balmy zero at the summit, then at the "Football Field" on the way down it is 20 MPH at minus 20. That's colder than your personal limit, but you're already trapped above Denali Pass. Then at the pass it is 40 MPH and minus 40. My question is, how do you know the weather won't fall below your limit AFTER you're way high on the mountain and it is too late to fall back?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Overboots on 09/03/2007 20:56:28 MDT Print View

Robert asked:

> how do you know the weather won't fall below your limit AFTER you're way high on the mountain and it is too late to fall back?

Short answer: you can't know in advance. That's mountaineering.

Better answer: read the weather forecast in advance.

Longer answer: one can be awful determined when heading downhill in deteriorating conditions! I've seen people running DOWNHILL at 5,000 metres...

"We took risks, we knew we took risks, but things have come out against us. Therefore we have no cause to complain."
Scott, Antarctic.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Risks on 09/03/2007 21:13:34 MDT Print View

Roger: They say that fast and light is often safer than slow and heavy, but when you can buy much warmer footwear which is only slightly if any heavier, why risk your toes with flimsy boots? When Reinhold Messner soloed Everest without bottled oxygen, he garnered huge bragging rights in the climbing community, and for those who care about that (not me) it was worth risking everything. But summiting Denali via the West Buttress garners you no bragging rights in that community, so why take huge risks? (You will take some risks unless you stay on your couch.) The Oly Mons boots only weigh about 6 pounds a pair, and they include built-in gaiters. P.S. In my arrogant opinion Robert Falcon Scott was a stupid fool and an arrogant idiot. He refused to learn from the Inuits how to travel in cold conditions, so instead of being towed by sled dogs like the successful Amundsen, he post-holed it on foot.

Edited by RobertM2S on 09/03/2007 21:16:54 MDT.

Thomas Tait
(Islandlite) - F

Locale: Colorado
Fast on 09/03/2007 21:40:16 MDT Print View

>one can be awful determined when heading downhill in deteriorating conditions! I've seen people running DOWNHILL at 5,000 metres...

I guess that is the FAST part of "Fast and Light"

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Risks on 09/03/2007 23:23:31 MDT Print View

> In my arrogant opinion Robert Falcon Scott was a stupid fool and an arrogant idiot. He refused to learn from the Inuits how to travel in cold conditions, so instead of being towed by sled dogs like the successful Amundsen, he post-holed it on foot.
This has been said before. :-) But it's a great quote.

As to boot warmth - I do wonder that people never discuss the leg insulation when discussing boots. A boot can NOT keep your foot warm; it can only slow the loss of heat. The only significant source of heat for your feet is the blood coming down your leg. So there is a huge difference between warm legs and cold legs.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: Re: Risks on 09/04/2007 00:00:15 MDT Print View

You're right, Scott was great at talking big. He should have been a politician rather than an explorer, where he just winged it. As to leg warmth, what is your opinion of using down suits, which tap body warmth from head to torso to legs? Impractical due to having to go to the bathroom?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Risks on 09/04/2007 03:51:26 MDT Print View

> what is your opinion of using down suits, which tap body warmth from head to torso to legs? Impractical due to having to go to the bathroom?
I don't think toilet problems are that bad. Drop flap designs are well known, after all. You have to just grin and bare it ... (sorry).
A problem, or rather a question, is whether it is cold enough that you don't sweat much. Sweat plus down is not good. Even in the Antarctic people often go without down suits when they are working hard. Good wind resistance is often as or more important.

On which point, it is worth noting that the wind chill factor may be over-emphasised. It applies to exposed skin. It does not apply to the outside of dry windproof clothing. There the ordinary ambient temperature applies.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Down Suits on 09/04/2007 06:32:45 MDT Print View

Yes, I hear that many Everest climbers have their down suits carried to high camp by Sherpas, and don't actually wear them while actively climbing until the final summit push, because it is too warm lower down. (How fun it must be to "grin and bear it" on the South Col.) As to wind chill when not naked, that's an interesting question, and not being an expert, I don't really know but I would guess there is SOME effect: the wind must strip away any micro-climate that tries to form one or two molecular distances above the surface of the boot or garment. In a dead calm, I would guess that this very thin layer of air could be warmed up somewhat, and maintained with electrical forces between the molecules of the garment and molecules of the air. (I'm jusst blowing smoke out my butt, ignore it.)

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
D on 09/04/2007 06:35:47 MDT Print View

I'm getting interference from the morals computer program.

Edited by RobertM2S on 09/04/2007 06:39:02 MDT.

Robert Mohid
(mohid) - F
Re: Re: Risks on 09/04/2007 09:30:38 MDT Print View

I think the critical thing about boots that's being missed is that your feet are one of the key culprits of heat loss as they are in constant contact with the ground. Agree the only source of heat is the blood from your legs, but that the significant source of heat loss is the ground.

Overboots are a pain, and might not be worth the extra warmth if your crampon footwork is critical, but as to why they didn't suit up with oly mons instead of tested gear they already have is most likely a budget issue athan anything else.

Matt's tactics are fair in stating that if he felt conditions were too much for his gear, he would not go. That's his call and it's a reasonable one.

And quoting Scott on risk managment is like quoting Mengele on medical ethics. It's in bad taste.

Robert Mohid
(mohid) - F
Wind chill on 09/04/2007 09:35:59 MDT Print View

Keep in mind that wind chill affects ANY evaporating surface, not just bare skin.

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Re: Wind Chill on 09/04/2007 10:37:06 MDT Print View

Would there be different wind chill charts for different surfaces? For example, wet cotton would evaporate faster than skin or Gore-Tex, hence the chilling effect attributable to just the wind would be different? If so, what surface did they use to fill out the standard wind chilll charts, bare skin?

Robert Mohid
(mohid) - F
Wind chill on 09/04/2007 11:27:56 MDT Print View

The wikipedia link to wind chill has some information on how the values were orginally calculated as well as the math involved. The original values were based on the measured effects of wind on a plastic cyninder.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_chill#Formulae_and_tables

ROBERT TANGEN
(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Official wind chill on 09/04/2007 11:36:55 MDT Print View

Yes, but that is old data. Wikipedia on Wind Chill: “In 2001 the National Weather Service (NWS) implemented the new wind chill index, used by the US and Canadian weather services, which is determined by iterating a model of skin temperature under various wind speeds and temperatures… Heat transfer was calculated for a BARE FACE [my emphasis] in wind, facing the wind, while walking into it at 3 mph (1.37 m/s)… The 2001 WCET is a steady state calculation (except for the time to frostbite estimates [4]) There are significant time-dependent aspects to wind chill, for cooling is most rapid at the start of any exposure, when the skin is still warm… The method for calculating wind chill has been controversial because experts disagree on whether it should be based on whole body cooling either while naked or while wearing appropriate clothing, or if instead it should be based instead on local cooling of the most exposed skin, i.e. the face.” This seems to say that a climber swathed in down clothing and gloves, neoprene face masks, goggles and double mountaineering boots was not considered when making up the Weather Service wind chill charts. Their charts are based solely on the “bare face.” I didn’t see any information on charts to tell us how wind adds to the chill when we are bundled up with lots of clothing.

Robert Mohid
(mohid) - F
Wind chill on 09/04/2007 13:05:29 MDT Print View

With regards to calculating effective windchill on fully clothed climbers I don't think the official charts will be of any help.

The emphasis was on developing a model to calculate perceived windchill in a way that would be practical for people in the outdoors. So in that respect it's backwards. They agreed by consesus on what would be most usuable (bare face) and then proceeded to model that scenario.

The only work that seems to focus on the more basic aspect of windchill is dr Osczvski's work. But then again, the focus is still specific to specific applications.

http://en.scientificcommons.org/randall_j_osczevski