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Sept JMT Gear List
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Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Sept snow on JMT on 07/15/2014 23:04:09 MDT Print View

Very peripherally related to the slinking out quickly - by some stroke of bad luck I was crossing the sierra on my way to a trip in Utah exactly at the time, and it was pretty short, that it snowed late in September (think it was the 28th) last year. When I got to the entrance station before Yosemite Valley, and exactly then to a few seconds, the was the most god awful cloudburst where I got drenched just by rolling my window down to communicate with the ranger there. This continued as I turned and climbed heading towards Tioga pass, and I suspect the gate across 120 was closed behind me not long after I past by there. The snow was about medium intensity, and was melting as it hit the road, so it was easy to drive. What people who have driven in snoww before would consider problematic, but perfectly manageable. But it was 3:30 or 4 pm and I was worried about what might happen when it got dark. Then I hit the back end of the traffic jam, no doubt cause by a few little old ladies (of both sexes) who have never driven in snow and who refused to drive more than a mile an hour. So we are stuck virtually motionless in reasonable good driving conditions for no real reason behind these idiots as the sun goes lower and lower, and as I watch the temperature dropping 36, 35, 34. Finally I reach the idiot(s) in question and blast past them at 10 mph with open slushy highway in front of me. I made it to Lee Vining shortly after dark, but I imagined the idiots petrified and going 1 mph finally accelerating down hill or off a cliff as the slush re-froze with them still somewhere around lake Tenaya.

Anyway, moral of the story to go with Bob's story - often times hunkering down like an idiot does not make you safer. A little imagination and extrapolation, together with active countermeasures and retreat may be better in a lot of cases.

Edited by millonas on 07/15/2014 23:14:43 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sept snow on JMT on 07/15/2014 23:09:21 MDT Print View

"It's rarely a single factor that results in a horrible outcome - but a single good decision can avoid it completely."

I think that there was a death on the Whitney Trail earlier this year. The deceased was found at the bottom of the steep rocky chute that goes from Mirror Lake up to a point on the trail around 11,000'. The theory was that the deceased missed one turn in the trail and then went down the chute. Poor fellow. Maybe his headlamp had failed or something.

On the other hand, I made that same mistake myself once about 38 years ago, but I managed to scrape down the chute and survive.


Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
re:snow/shelter on 07/16/2014 01:49:35 MDT Print View

All great information.

My trip this year isn't actually the JMT (but I don't think I'm too off topic). With my father and brother, I'm doing about 50 miles from Agnew Meadows to Yosemite Valley, hoping to do a fair bit off trail wandering between Marie or Davis Lakes and the Upper Lyell Fork of the Merced. So I won't be scrambling up Whitney, but I'll be up high a fair bit.

I don't have the miles or nights that lots of guys do, which is why I'm happy to absorb more than contribute around here, but I'd say I'm generally confident with tents, and I'm cautiously optimistic with tarps. I'm used to shoulder season temps occasionally dipping down to 20 up here in the PNW, and I've tarped in the cold/wet up here successfully by myself. And the more I've continued to learn about the high sierra in September, the more our clothing list has become what I usually take during shoulder season in Washington. I'm confident we've got the right insulation for 20 degree nights, if we're dry.

Which leads to the part where I lack confidence with tarps: I've never tried to keep 3 people dry with a 10x10 tarp in strong wind, at 10,000 feet, in potentially much more exposed locations. I pitch the tarp with trekking poles, and have done so successfully in what I'd call breezy weather, but nothing like 30MPH winds. And as Bob pointed out, wet gear can be hairy situation.

At this point, I'm leaning toward bringing a tent and a tarp. I don't have the money for a 3-person pyramid. My Fly Creek UL3 is ~3lbs. Adding a ~2lb tarp, I'd be looking at 5lbs shelter. I think I'm fine with that. I'd be able to test run the tarp with a fallback option. I'd much rather shoulder the extra weight than make for a miserable trip.

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 12:47:35 MDT Print View

I enjoy the Sierra Nevada in September. No crowds, bugs, less chance of thunder storms on the high passes, and water fords are trivial. It can occasionally snow (normally just a few inches at the most), but normally you'll have sunny weather though the nights can be cold.

Around the middle of September, the lows can often start falling into the low 20's as others have mentioned. I use a 20F degree quilt all the time with a tarp in the High Sierra (June through September). You should have no issues with a tarp if you know how to use it in bad weather. As someone who hiked the PCT with a tarp and has dealt with snow many times, a tarp is more then enough shelter to deal with it IF YOU HAVE THE PROPER KNOWLEDGE of how to pitch it and pick a campsite. I've had not just horizontal snow, but snow blowing upslope towards me on a ridge I was camped on and stayed dry and warm with a small tarp. However, I do use a bivy sack as well which does add some additional warmth and protection. Even with a 20F quilt, you may find it cold if you camp on Mt. Whintey in the later part of September so I'd recommend camping further down the mountain.

I think your clothing layers are similar to what I would carry except I would go for a warmer pair of thermal pants then just silk. Gaiters aren't necessary but if you like them so be it. I don't like the hoody version of the jacket. I would rather have a seperate warm hat from the jacket as that jacket will likely be too warm to hike in most of the time but there will be times you'll still want a warm hat on. I normally use a Montbell Extremly UL down jacket with a Mountain Hardware lightweight Balaclava (1.3 oz). I find the balaclava to be the more versatile warm hat you can wear. You can wear it as a single layer beanie style hat where its just pulled down over the ears with the rest dangling off your head even if it looks dorky. You can double it up for more warmth by pulling it down all the way and then back up so it just covers the ears but now has double thickness of material. Or for really cold, just pull it down so it covers your face and neck which really warms you up. Been in 20F temperatures with 30-50mph wind gusts blowing snow at me and found it more then warm enough. Plus with a quilt without a mummy hood, being able to cover you entire head is a plus.

I would have enough water capacity for at least 2L of water; you look like you are only carrying 1.5L. Make sure you protect your water filter at night when the temperatures drop below freezing. Put it in a ziplock and keep it in your quilt to keep the filter from freezing.

I didn't notice anything like a compass but I'd recommend having one. Overall, your gear list looks good to me.

Edited by Miner on 07/16/2014 12:56:11 MDT.

Duane Bindschadler
(DLBVenice) - M

Locale: Venice
Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 14:32:27 MDT Print View

Sean -

Thanks for the suggestions & comments. Great info.

I've camped enough with the tarp now that I am very aware of site selection, and I've at been rained on a few time - but nothing like sideways rain or upslope-blowing snow to date. I do know how to choose a site that is relatively sheltered from wind. What pitch or pitches do you go to in windy/stormy conditions? I've used the storm pitch suggested in Ryan Jordan's article (Tarp camping in inclement conditions - there's a link in one of my previous posts on this thread). I plan to try some pyramid pitches I've seen as well.

Is there any data on how much a bivy sack helps with warmth? I think I might consider down pants first, for the same weight. Although the bivy might be more effective for windy conditions(?)

For thermal pants, that's an oversight. I have some microfleece pants that I need to put into the list (I just dont' have their weight right at the moment).

I appreciate the thoughts about a balaclava vs hood. My thinking was the that integrated hood probably gives the best warmth for weight while sleeping. But if I need something warmer than my hat and long hair when I'm hiking... I'll have to think about this some more.

For water, I can actually carry 3.5L (1L platy, 0.5L bottle, and 2 L Sawyer Squeeze bag). So that should be plenty. And I agree with you on the compass.

Thanks again!

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 16:05:13 MDT Print View

Actually, I think bivy sacks might be the perfect solution for you guys. They are warmer, will cut the wind and some spray. With that added layer by itself I think you might be fine with your bag and gear as is. Use with the tarp, but the breathable kind. If you get the un-zippable kind, like the zpacks ones, then you would be good in hotter weather as well.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 16:17:31 MDT Print View

"Is there any data on how much a bivy sack helps with warmth?"

I doubt it since there aren't any standards as to what a bivy sack really is.

I sewed my own two-person bivy sack over thirty years ago, and it used some substantial Goretex fabric. With it, I could sleep out in a snow storm without any problem.

However, now that we are within the ultralightweight context, we are looking at very thin fabrics. About all you expect to get is a little windproofness, a little breathability, and maybe a little rainproofness. Don't expect much extra warmth, although it might make a sleeping bag more comfortable because of the other factors.

The other thing is that a bivy sack gives you a place to stuff all sorts of things around your sleeping bag, and those help warmth as well. That would include any clothing not already worn, spare socks, towel, etc.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 16:30:28 MDT Print View

"If you get the un-zippable kind, ..."




Edited by greg23 on 07/16/2014 16:32:27 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 16:40:34 MDT Print View

In my experience the un-zippable ones are far superior to the zippable ones. ;-)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 16:44:22 MDT Print View

"In my experience the un-zippable ones are far superior to the zippable ones."

What? Do you just chew a hole in the side and then crawl through it?

I've made bivy sacks with a long zipper down the middle, with a long zipper down the side, with a short zipper across the chest, and with combinations. I've never had one that was un-zippable. Maybe you use buttons or velcro.


Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 16:52:32 MDT Print View

Grammer police are everywhere.

"unzipp-able" then. Or is "unzippable" better.

Anyway, since they resemble a body bag I'm keenly interested the the ability to get out.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 17:02:26 MDT Print View

"Grammer police are everywhere."

Grammar police are out, but the spelling police are worse.

For the normal purpose of a body bag, they don't want the body to be able to get out.


Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sept JMT Gear List on 07/16/2014 17:10:23 MDT Print View

"Grammar police are out, but the spelling police are worse."

I think the location of a hyphen may still technically qualify as grammer. Humm, I guess that makes me the grammar police police.

"For the normal purpose of a body bag, they don't want the body to be able to get out."

My point exactly.

Now all someone has to do is mention Nazis and we will know this thread is over.


Edited by millonas on 07/16/2014 17:11:02 MDT.

Duane Bindschadler
(DLBVenice) - M

Locale: Venice
zippp-able or zipable (no Nazis) on 07/16/2014 19:29:11 MDT Print View

Just wanted to complain at the ignominious end to my wonderful thread...

(and show that I could spell "ignominious")

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
JMT List on 08/04/2014 10:38:34 MDT Print View

Well, your list is well thought out.

As far as the off topic of tarps goes, I always use a tarp for 3 seasons and do so in the shoulder season. As stated, good pitch is everything.

The other point to make is the old adage "hike high, camp low". If you plan on camping right below passes or in real exposed areas every day then it can be a problem. You can miss a lot of weather by just camping a bit lower and a bit more protected.

Site selection is king.